The former Temptations front man Ali-Ollie Woodson has died following a battle with leukemia. The singer, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, passed away in California May 30, according to Motown Alumni Association President Billy Wilson. He was 58.
Born Ollie Cregget in Detroit, Woodson began his career as a member of Bill Pinkney’s Original Drifters in the early 1970s, but he rose to fame as a member of the Motown quintet in the 1980s, joining the group as a replacement for Dennis Edwards after he was fired in 1984.
|ALI-OLLIE WOODSON—At 58, Woodson had previously contributed in the single “Treat Her Like a Lady” and went on tour with Aretha Franklin.
He co-wrote, co-produced and sang lead vocals for the hit single “Treat Her Like a Lady” but left the band in 1986. However, Woodson returned in 1988 for an eight-year tenure before quitting again after the release of the group’s 1995 album “For Lovers Only.” He reunited with the band in 2002 for a Japanese tour, stepping in for Barrington ‘Bo’ Henderson after he was forced to skip the trek due to visa problems.
Woodson also enjoyed success as a solo singer, fronting Ali-Ollie Woodson & the Emperors of Soul and he hit the road with Aretha Franklin in 2008. He also landed small guest roles in TV shows and movies, and toured the country with various Black gospel theater groups as well as being featured on several gospel CDs by various groups.
Paying tribute to Woodson, Wilson tells the Associated Press, “He had this swagger about himself. He was cool. He had a coolness about himself that was really very inviting. He was just a star performer. Wonderful person. Wonderful, wonderful person. He was very kind.”
Woodson is survived by his wife, Juanita.
Woodson was not an original member of the group, which had several lineup changes since it started in the 1960s. With original members David Ruffin, Paul Williams and Eddie Kendrick dying at young ages, he played an integral part in keeping the Temptations from becoming just a nostalgia act. There is only one original member of the group still living, Otis Williams.
By the early 1980s, the Temptations were no longer posting hit after hit as they had in the 1960s and ’70s with songs like “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” “My Girl,” “I Wish It Would Rain.” and “Just My Imagination.”
Woodson helped the Temptations notch the R&B hits “Treat Her Like a Lady,” which he wrote; “Sail Away” and “Lady Soul.”
He put his playful stamp on several Temptations’ standards as well as more recent material “with his tricky punctuation, sassy humor and inventive acrobatics.”